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Basketball Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal and Authentic Brands Group filed for three trademark applications for the word SHAQ last month for “non-downloadable virtual footwear, clothing, headwear, eyewear” and more “for use in virtual environments,” Footwear News reported Wednesday (Jan. 13).
That sounds an awful lot like Shaq’s first steps toward the metaverse. ABG owns and manages O’Neal’s branded merchandise, and the man of many nicknames is the company’s second-largest shareholder, according to the report. Forever 21, Barneys New York and JCPenney are other brands under the ABG umbrella.
“Just like you might buy a branded product in the real world that says ‘Shaq’ on it, now you might buy one of those in the virtual world,” trademark attorney Josh Gerben of Gerben Law Firm told Footwear News.
O’Neal has said he wants his name to “go on forever,” one of the reasons he said he wanted to partner with ABG, which owns the rights to several other celebrities like Elvis Presley and Muhammad Ali, the report stated. ABG filed trademarks in December for Elvis and Sports Illustrated for virtual rights.
“The existing registrations that they have on these brands do not cover virtual goods because virtual goods was not a thing five or 10 years ago,” Gerben told Footwear News. “No one really thought that you might need protection on something like this.”
New York-based ABG owns and manages more than 40 media, entertainment and lifestyle retail brands, ranging from Marilyn Monroe to Eddie Bauer.
Of course, O’Neal is hardly the only celebrity looking to broaden his brand. The House of LR&C, a Seattle-based fashion startup started by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and singer Ciara, will seek between $20 million and $50 million from investors this spring in a Series A fundraising round.
Meanwhile, Gap and singer, designer and entrepreneur Kanye West have a 10-year, $1 billion deal for his Yeezy line that is 18 months and two product launches deep.
As PYMNTS reported, celebrity endorsements usually work well, but the narrowness of their nature creates a disproportionate exposure linked to the continued good behavior of a single individual.
Walmart isn’t the first marketer to show budding interest in the metaverse, but a potentially substantial push to build out its offerings could go a long way in sparking more mainstream adoption of technologies that are foundational to the channel, including cryptocurrencies. The big-box store is the largest retailer in the world, reaching a massive audience of shoppers, and rivals may follow Walmart’s lead in ramping up their bets lest they lose an early-mover advantage in a market some view as the next evolution of the internet.
That said, many metaverse-related technologies like NFTs haven’t served a purpose in marketing beyond one-off stunts or generating some headlines. But the broader vision of what the metaverse could eventually become is appealing to companies like Walmart, with shared virtual realms acting as a venue for customers to try out experiences and products and eventually make purchases of digital goods as they look to customize their online avatars and living spaces. Though businesses clearly smell an opportunity, consumers haven’t quite come around to the idea, even as categories like gaming provide a loose sense of what’s possible in the metaverse.
Some groundwork has already been laid for Walmart’s metaverse approach. Last year, it began seeking a digital currency and cryptocurrency product lead, following in Amazon’s footsteps. Recent executive changes point to a possible strategy switch-up. Longtime merchandising chief Scott McCall is retiring, Bloomberg reported, while Chief Customer Officer Janey Whiteside — a key player in rounding out Walmart’s e-commerce playbook — will depart in March.
Walmart dipping its toes in the metaverse could support other ventures that are important to staying competitive in retail. In 2020, it introduced its long-awaited Walmart+ e-commerce portal meant to tackle the growing threat of Amazon Prime. Several of the trademark applications were also made under Walmart Connect, the marketer’s fledgling advertising business. Walmart has quickly built out the unit as the demand for retail media soars during the pandemic and packaged goods brands seek alternative targeting methods to cookies, which are being phased out next year.
Other marketers are more firmly planting their metaverse flags. Nike in December acquired RTFKT, a digital studio that designs virtual collectibles like NFTs. The sportswear marketer also recently established Nikeland, an interactive experience inside the Roblox gaming platform that lets visitors participate in activities like dodgeball and trying on virtual apparel.
Public Mint opens at the price of 0.333 Ethereum. The project has opened an Early Mint Allow List with Limited Spots available, which allows minting 1 day early on January 22, 2022. Registration is Required for Early Mint. Registration can be found at: https://456collectorsclub.com/public-mint-early-access-registration
Zevi G is a prolific and steadfast artist who uses his studio to bring unanticipated creations to life. In a world where love, unity and kindness have become a scarce commodity, Zevi is determined to make a change using his art and many compelling characters to spread this powerful message.
The 456 Collector’s Club by Zevi G is a collection of 4,560 unique algorithmically created NFTs featuring characters from Zevi G’s signature series “456 Land”. Holders become members of an exclusive Art Club and continually unlock redeemable artwork in intervals as the community grows, get access to future community events, and digital experiences.
Zevi G was never intimidated by his underprivileged and very orthodox upbringing, on the contrary, that became the very essence of his strength and will, to turn his life around and reach others with positive and relevant messages. Each 456 Land sculpture comes with its own personality and features different traits such as the angel with its thin legs and wings, or the soldier with its buff chest. The childlike characters with eyes full of wonder appear as a musician, a roofer, a jeweler, a guitarist; a world of references and emotional memories that is personal and reflects on the artist’s past.
456 Club holders get Utility. After holding for 1-month owners can claim a 1×1 print of the exact NFT they own. After holding for 4-months holders will be able to redeem a 7 in. by 7 in. Namaste Sculpture in the corresponding color of their NFT. There are 10 different colors available with some colors more limited than others. Each sculpture will feature an NFC chip that provides the owner with continual digital experiences and helps pair the physical item with the NFT.
Anyone who mints 3 or more NFTs is entered into a raffle for a 5 ft. Diamond Hands Bronze Sculpture valued at $175,000.
Each NFT is a raffle ticket to win a 26-inch Diamond Hands Resin sculpture valued at $10,000 – 5 winners total (3 white, 2 Blue).
Join the conversation on Discord to learn more about additional giveaways!
Mint a 456 Collectors Club NFT to join the club and become a member is the first community to dedicate its purpose to spreading the message of love and unity through physical and digital art. Register for Early Access.
456 Land: http://zevigart.com
SOURCE 456 Collector’s Club
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